Last weekend, I was privileged to attend the 5th Colour Me Ladies Conference in Cebu as one of the speakers alongside pastor’s wife, blogger and mother Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio and award-winning actress, cancer survivor, solo parent champion and believer of Jesus for almost 30 years, Coney Reyes.
I was tasked to share my life testimony—how God’s love and forgiveness has touched my heart and transformed my life and continues to do so. I was also privileged to conduct a workshop on solo parenting.
But more than going there to bless others with God’s story through my life, I was beyond blessed to be immersed in the presence of 1,800 praying women and hear God’s word, see God’s grace and feel God’s love through the lives of my fellow speakers. What a blessing to be a woman and to be in that conference!
Allow me to share with you my takeaways and reflections on how important it is for us to be 1) loved so that we can love others and 2) for our children to be secured in ours and God’s love for them knowing that this is the key to securing their identity in Jesus—love that is not bound by conditions, nor based on performance or sinlessness.
In this very visual day and age, the images we see which are rarely filtered in our heads unconsciously affect the way we view ourselves —more often than not, noticing more what we do not have than what we do have. That is covetousness. We tend to compare (mind you, this is also one of the culprits why suicidal attempts abound—an individual’s unhappiness triggered by social media images).
Comparison, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, is the thief of joy. True. Most of the time this is the inevitable impact of too much scrolling and browsing, when even your mind has wandered off from a state of “just looking” to already comparing.
Subliminally, this habit we have of “just looking” ends up in discontent. We did not just waste precious time but also opportunities to be thankful for what we have and work on multiplying what we do have.
The world we live in has manipulated us into thinking that we need to work and perform in order to gain love and appreciation. And so when we do not meet the expectations of people, our supposed loved ones, we feel less loved and unappreciated. We tend to overlook the purpose for why we do what we do and why we need to give our best each time – it is solely to bring glory to God – not to be loved because remember, He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Somewhat perfection has also been taken to a new level – we first need to look good, dress perfectly, be thin, have cheekbones or be in the high-cut swimsuit to be “in” or have such neat and Instagrammable, polished lives in order to be looked upon with praise and admiration and love by the society.
We need not be perfect before we can be loved. Do you know that God loves you in all your brokenness and sinfulness? Read Psalm 51:17 and find out for yourself what sacrifice the Lord deems acceptable – it is not perfection.
Do you know that no matter what you look, no matter how you have sinned in the past, no matter how cluttered your life is, nothing you can do can make the Lord love you less, or more. He just loves you. He has loved you with an everlasting love. He has loved you before he even fashioned and knitted you in your mother’s womb.
And because He is the all-knowing God, even if He knows you will sin against Him, He still loves you. There is nothing we can do that can make Him unlove us. In fact, we should be convinced that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) And may we also realize and grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).
These are the truths about love that we must all know in our hearts. We do not need to be perfect before we can be accepted. We need not perform before we can be loved. We can never be worthy because we are sinful human beings. We will always fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
God, the Beginning and The End, The Creator of All, knew we are sinful and imperfect and yet, He loved us. First.
With these in mind, may we parents come to terms about accepting ourselves and knowing that we are loved for who we are. And with the same heart, that we may love our children and always meet them with love, not condemnation – without pressure to perform before we praise them. There is truly only one person that we need to know loves us, and that is Jesus.
Every minute goes by so fast, as fast as your internet connection perhaps. But take the time to pause and take in this truth: Jesus loves you and me, for who we are. Yes, for all that we are. Know this in your head and receive this in your heart that you may love others the way Jesus loves and accepts you.
The foundation of which all things are built and every person made is love. Love builds, love secures, love keeps you safe, love sustains. Love never fails.